Our Mission

At GARAS (Gloucestershire Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers) we offer support to those seeking asylum in Gloucestershire, welcoming them when they arrive, advocating for them in their daily struggles, supporting them if they face being sent back as well as helping them adjust to their long term future if they are recognised as refugees.

Contact Information

Gloucestershire Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers (GARAS)
The Trust Centre
Falkner St
Gloucester
GL1 4SQ

Telephone: 01452 550528
email: info@garas.org.uk
www.garas.org.uk

Director
Adele Owen

Immigration Court Fees Petition

May 17, 2016

Please would you consider signing this petition, regarding fee increases for asylum seekers to take their cases to court? In our experience, the appeal process is crucial in terms of justice being done for asylum seekers, whose cases are often unfairly refused. A number of people are later granted Refugee status through the appeal system, which suggests that the Home Office have not made a correct initial decision. If people are priced out of it, they will be even more oppressed, left destitute and in an extremely vulnerable position. Please take a look and sign the petition.  (For more info, you can read this article in the Guardian.)

Right to Rent Campaign

January 13, 2016

Please take a look at our website and add your voice to ours, to call the Government to rethink its controversial ‘Right to Rent’ scheme, which we see will create housing problems and homelessness for Refugees.  You can find a template letter on the website.  Please personalise and use it.  The scheme is set to start in February, so time is running short!  Thanks.

Campaign brewing

November 21, 2014

A bit like buses, we are quiet for a while and then we have a head of steam and produce another blog.

This is a little unusual because normally we do not discuss individual cases for obvious reasons, however we have been asked to on this occasion by the person himself.

There is an EU agreement called the Dublin Convention which simply put states that those people will be returned to the first country within the EU in which asylum was first sought. This is regularly used and we quite often see people returned to other parts of the EU.

But what happens if that in itself, is not safe? It is now recognised that it is not safe to be returned to Greece due to their human rights abuses of asylum seekers.

What if a country has no system to protect these most vulnerable individuals? What happens if you have been beaten up by the same people and hospitalised each time? What happens you are continuously threatened and your life is in danger? What happens if you are so familiar and well known by a particular group within a country there is no possibility of
safety?

You fled your home country due to the very real dangers there and in so doing find yourself out of the frying pan into the fire?

Given the very real evidence of the danger does it not seem reasonable then to find a way to by pass the Convention and just pay attention to the asylum claim which still needs to be examined..

And then, maybe this man can find the peace and security he so desperately needs. 

Asylum Support Rates – immediate action needed

June 18, 2014

Please consider writing to your MP, encouraging them to sign an Early Day Motion to increase Asylum Support in line with inflation.  To see if your MP has already signed up, look here.

In summary,
Teresa Pearce MP (Labour) has tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM No.99) on the High Court Judgement on Asylum Support. The EDM has cross party support, including from Peter Bottomley MP (Conservative) and Sarah Teather MP (Liberal Democrat) and calls on the Government to raise asylum support rates to at least 70% of Income Support and to increase this in line with inflation annually.

We now need to get as many MPs as possible to sign the EDM so that the Government can see there is strong support for this issue prior to making its decision on how to respond to the Court judgment. Still Human is therefore calling on all member organisations and individuals to lobby their MPs to sign EDM No.99  

Below is a draft letter you can personalise to send to your MP:

Dear

I am very concerned that the level of support currently being provided to those who have come to the UK to escape conflict and persecution is not sufficient to meet their essential living needs.

In 1999, asylum seekers received 70% of Income Support, but in recent years this has been reduced and is now as low as 50% for many asylum seekers. The vast majority of those seeking asylum currently receive just over £5 a day to pay for food, toiletries, clothes, travel and other expenses (housing and fuel bills are paid for separately for those who have nowhere to live).

On 9 April 2014, the High Court found that the Government’s assessment of the amount needed by asylum seekers to avoid destitution was flawed and ordered the decision be taken again. The Government did not appeal the ruling and must take a new decision on whether to increase asylum support rates by 9 August.

Asylum seekers are effectively not allowed to work to support themselves and are often dependant on government support for extended periods of time. At the end of March 2014, nearly 8,000 asylum seekers had been waiting more than six months for an initial decision on their claim.

While individuals can live on £5 a day for a few days or even weeks, they cannot do so for the longer term without it having a serious impact on their health. Indeed, the Royal College of Psychiatrists stated that “the psychological health of refugees and asylum seekers currently worsens on impact with the UK asylum system”.

Asylum applications to the UK have been under 25,000 for the last five years – easily within the UK’s capacity to deal with efficiently and humanely – and around half of these applicants are eventually recognised as needing protection and given permission to stay in the UK.

I believe that the Government should respond to the High Court ruling by significantly increasing the support to asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute and I would be grateful if you could show your support for those seeking protection in this country by signing the cross-party EDM on the High Court judgment on asylum support (EDM No.99).

If you prefer not to sign an EDM, then please write to the Home Secretary expressing your concern over current asylum support rates and ask the Government to ensure that Section 95 support is at least equal to 70% of Income Support and that rates are increased in line with inflation each year.

Many thanks for your consideration of the above and I look forward to hearing from you soon

Yours sincerely

Thanks to Still Human Still Here for all their work on this, which we are copying here.